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Intimate Matters: A History of Sexuality in America

by John D'Emilio Estelle B. Freedman

The first full length study of the history of sexuality in America, Intimate Matters offers trenchant insights into the sexual behavior of Americans, from colonial times to today. D'Emilio and Freedman give us a deeper understanding of how sexuality has dramatically influenced politics and culture throughout our history. "The book John D'Emilio co-wrote with Estelle B. Freedman, Intimate Matters, was cited by Supreme Court Justice Anthony Kennedy when, writing for a majority of court on July 26, he and his colleagues struck down a Texas law criminalizing sodomy. The decision was widely hailed as a victory for gay rights--and it derived in part, according to Kennedy's written comments, from the information he gleaned from D'Emilio's book, which traces the history of American perspectives on sexual relationships from the nation's founding through the present day. The justice mentioned Intimate Matters specifically in the court's decision."--Julia Keller, Chicago Tribune. "Fascinating... [D'Emilio and Freedman] marshall their material to chart a gradual but decisive shift in the way Americans have understood sex and its meaning in their lives." --Barbara Ehrenreich, New York Times Book Review. "[With] comprehensiveness and care ... D'Emilio and Freedman have surveyed the sexual patters for an entire nation across four centuries." --Martin Bauml Duberman, Nation. "Intimate Matters is comprehensive, meticulous and intelligent." --Jonathan Yardley, Washington Post Book World. "This book is remarkable ... [Intimate Matters] is bound to become the definitive survey of American sexual history for years to come." --Roy Porter, Journal of the History of the Behavioral Sciences.

Lost Prophet: The Life and Times of Bayard Rustin

by John D'Emilio

Bayard Rustin is one of the most important figures in the history of the American civil rights movement. Before Martin Luther King, before Malcolm X, Bayard Rustin was working to bring the cause to the forefront of America's consciousness. A teacher to King, an international apostle of peace, and the organizer of the famous 1963 March on Washington, he brought Gandhi's philosophy of nonviolence to America and helped launch the civil rights movement. Nonetheless, Rustin has been largely erased by history, in part because he was an African American homosexual. Acclaimed historian John D'Emilio tells the full and remarkable story of Rustin's intertwined lives: his pioneering and public person and his oblique and stigmatized private self. It was in the tumultuous 1930s that Bayard Rustin came of age, getting his first lessons in politics through the Communist Party and the unrest of the Great Depression. A Quaker and a radical pacifist, he went to prison for refusing to serve in World War II, only to suffer a sexual scandal. His mentor, the great pacifist A. J. Muste, wrote to him, "You were capable of making the 'mistake' of thinking that you could be the leader in a revolution...at the same time that you were a weakling in an extreme degree and engaged in practices for which there was no justification." Freed from prison after the war, Rustin threw himself into the early campaigns of the civil rights and anti-nuclear movements until an arrest for sodomy nearly destroyed his career. Many close colleagues and friends abandoned him. For years after, Rustin assumed a less public role even though his influence was everywhere. Rustin mentored a young and inexperienced Martin Luther King in the use of nonviolence. He planned strategy for the Southern Christian Leadership Conference until Congressman Adam Clayton Powell threatened to spread a rumor that King and Rustin were lovers. Not until Rustin's crowning achievement as the organizer of the 1963 March on Washington would he finally emerge from the shadows that homophobia cast over his career. Rustin remained until his death in 1987 committed to the causes of world peace, racial equality, and economic justice. Based on more than a decade of archival research and interviews with dozens of surviving friends and colleagues of Rustin's, Lost Prophet is a triumph. Rustin emerges as a hero of the black freedom struggle and a singularly important figure in the lost gay history of the mid-twentieth century. John D'Emilio's compelling narrative rescues a forgotten figure and brings alive a time of great hope and great tragedy in the not-so-distant past.

The World Turned: Essays on Gay History, Politics, and Culture

by John D'Emilio

Something happened in the 1990s, something dramatic and irreversible. A group of people long considered a moral menace and an issue previously deemed unmentionable in public discourse were transformed into a matter of human rights, discussed in every institution of American society. Marriage, the military, parenting, media and the arts, hate violence, electoral politics, public school curricula, human genetics, religion: Name the issue, and the the role of gays and lesbians was a subject of debate. During the 1990s, the world seemed finally to turn and take notice of the gay people in its midst. In The World Turned, distinguished historian and leading gay-rights activist John D'Emilio shows how gay issues moved from the margins to the center of national consciousness during the critical decade of the 1990s. In this collection of essays, D'Emilio brings his historian's eye to bear on these profound changes in American society, culture, and politics. He explores the career of Bayard Rustin, a civil rights leader and pacifist who was openly gay a generation before almost everyone else; the legacy of radical gay and lesbian liberation; the influence of AIDS activist and writer Larry Kramer; the scapegoating of gays and lesbians by the Christian Right; the gay-gene controversy and the debate over whether people are "born gay"; and the explosion of attention focused on queer families. He illuminates the historical roots of contemporary debates over identity politics and explains why the gay community has become, over the last decade, such a visible part of American life.

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